Karl Lagerfeld collection lands at Macy’s, but is it any good?

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The hotly-anticipated Karl Lagerfeld collection has hit Macy’s stores, the third in a series of designer collaborations that the Federated department-store chain initiated in February as part of a strategy to reinvent and rebrand itself as a trendy fashion destination. And it’s worth a look.

The limited-edition collection, $50 to $170, will be sold in the Impulse, or contemporary, departments of 235 Macy’s stores nationwide, as well as online at Lagerfeld, who has his own namesake line, as well as the top jobs at Chanel and Fendi, designed 45 pieces ranging from T-shirts with his mug on them, to party dresses.

When it comes to the design, it’s all about Karl’s stiff white shirt collar that is a trademark of the designer’s personal uniform. Dramatic, high-buttoned collars appear on several blouses and dresses, but their severity is tempered by romantic details.

A lot of the Macy’s merch is best left to the junior set, including a pale pink dress with puffy sleeves and a neckline edged in black fishnet; a mod (and cheap-looking) jersey shift with a low-slung wide belt, and metallic tweed shorts.


But there are exceptions. One of the most sophisticated pieces is a sleeveless black chiffon tuxedo dress with a crisp white collar, pin tucking at the waist and sparkly buttons. There are also two great blouses -- a pale gray floral print style with designer-y details, including close-fitting sleeves, and delicate buttons at the wrist. The other is charcoal gray chiffon with pin tucking and a stiff white satin collar. Faux leather pants look pretty good for the $99 price, as do the ‘Zombie’ jersey shirt dresses (in raspberry or black, also for $99) with crisp collars and soft ruching at the middle.

The misses? A white shirt with giant puffy sleeves and button panels cinching the waist. The fit is strange, and one of those decorative buttons literally fell off in the dressing room. A black jersey and pleather vest is another dud, one of a handful of items that just look cheesy.

This isn’t Lagerfeld’s first foray into cheap chic. He was one of the first designers to do a collection for Swedish fast fashion giant H&M back in the fall of 2004, before designer collaborations became a everyday occurrence.

Macy’s introduced its limited edition Impulse capsule collections in February with low-profile designer Kinder Aggugini. The next collaboration will be with Giambattista Valli, launching Oct. 26.

-- Booth Moore